As I was writing Winter Wedding (to be released September 2014), my cat, Miles, decided he needed to be in it. I'm not exactly sure why he decided he was going to be in the story, nor how precisely he conveyed such information, though sitting on my keyboard and incessantly batting at my fingers might have been some slight hint. All I know is that my heroine was suddenly rescuing a very large, wet, hairy beast, that she impulsively gives to the duchess as a most unwanted pet. Miles the cat comes in useful later in the story when I need to have my heroine have some logical reason to go into a cellar (you can never know how difficult it is to have characters go into dangerous places and how boring the story would be if they didn't) so I have forgiven my extra large cat the intrusion.
Some of my favorite characters in books have not been human at all, but their animal pets/friends/sidekicks who provide support, compassion, humor, and unconditional love. One of my favorite scenes in a Georgette Heyer novel is in Arabella, when Arabella manages to convince Mr. Beaumaris to adopt a mongrel dog from the street. The readers know from that moment he is in love with her, even if the main characters won't figure that out for many more chapters.
Some of my favorite books from childhood featured animals who were very much a main character of the story. I loved the Black Stallion books. The stallion who will never be tamed, but accepts Alec as a friend, is as much the hero of the story as Alec. Of course, I was utterly in love with Alec.
Other favorites from childhood include Call of the Wild and Julie of the Wolves. Canines make great characters because they are always strong and wild, but ferociously loyal and dependable. I always know if I'm going to like a character or not by how they interact with animals. If a character is cruel to an animal, the reader instantly knows the character is the villain.
Since I wrote Miles into one of the stories, I am wondering if my new kitten may start getting uppity and decide she needs to be in a novel too. So far she hasn't been too persistent, but Miles seems to be teaching her bad habits, like how to sharpen her claws on the moldings and how to drink out of my water glass. I fear it may only be a matter of time before a calico kitten makes her literary debut. Especially if I need another reason to lure my poor heroine into the cellar...
What is your favorite literary pet character?